Poetsenvy – The Monstar Machine – EP Review
Poetsenvy does a solid job of mixing up the sound & style of his approach over the course of the four new cuts on his latest EP, The Monstar Machine. People will dig the high-level of focus that Poetsenvy brings to the mic and the way this record spins from beginning to end as he flexes his verbal capabilities and strengths, duckin’ & weavin,’ stick’n & movin’ through the different gears of The Monstar Machine.
The hooks and flow of the EP’s opening track “Head On A Rock” are completely present on the m-i-c as Poetsenvy gets lyrically intense and lets complex rhymes rip with precision and real commitment in his tone. You can hear the determination and grit in this emcee’s voice at every moment on this opener – that was what started to hook me in right away when it came to what I was hearing on “Head On A Rock.” And if I’m being entirely honest, I think it’s Poetsenvy that kind of saves this first track…even now I’m not 100% sold on the music & beat of “Head On A Rock.” If it wasn’t for the fact that you can hear Poetsenvy really feeling the flow and rolling through his bars so perfectly, I’d be much more on the fence about this one – but because he does, I have to argue that this beat works in his favor. In my opinion, he’s used a TON of really, really bright sounds in the mix here…I have no serious objections to the actual choices in sounds he’s made, but I think those high-up synth tones would have stood out just as much about five notches lower in the mix and helped the vocals & rap stand out that much more as a result. Essentially, “Head On A Rock” has a great performance & confident flow from Poetsenvy that is a bit too hidden in the mix underneath those neon-bright sounds…I’m just sayin’ – give the man some space to let his words be heard, that’s all. It’s not like you can’t hear him, you definitely can and each word comes out clearly, but by that same token the main melodies in the music are always in front of him. I look at it like…it’s like one of those things you gotta step back from sometimes and examine for what it is…and in the case of a track like “Head On A Rock,” you gotta ask yourself, ‘what’s the main element driving this song…what’s the highlight…where’s the wow-factor’ – and that’s what you want to guide you to a mix that makes the most of every moment. For “Head On A Rock,” it’s clearly the vocals and what’s happening in the lyrical content of Poetsenvy’s rhymes…but they’re at the very least sharing an equal billing with what we hear in the mix, you feel me? It’s a lot of words to make a point for something that would take two seconds behind the studio boards to fix-up…but I think the effort he’s put into his words deserves that mix that reflects his rhythm & flow, creativity & precision, are put out there as the main star of the show. That’s all I’m saying. Bottom line is the idea is intact and you can immediately hear that Poetsenvy takes the mic seriously, grips it firmly with confidence and spits hot bars out all over “Head On A Rock” – and I think this first cut also gives the EP room to expand further.
Poetsenvy doesn’t just raise the stakes on the following track, “S.W.Y.M.” – he smashes all expectations and skips about seven levels here, soaring to a complete victory on this second tune. My issues with that first mix on “Head On A Rock” are more than perfectly resolved on “S.W.Y.M.” – I think Poetsenvy put together such a solid second cut on this record that I immediately played it on the last episode of the SBS Podcast. I talked a lot about first impressions when I spun “S.W.Y.M.” from Poetsenvy; even though this was the second cut on The Monstar Machine EP, I felt like this was the first time we heard the true potential within this artist breaking out in a way that seriously hit the mark and made that lasting, memorable impact. Vocally, he’s sitting right where he belongs in the mix – front & center. Cleverly flanked with a subtle backing layer to thicken the tone and add punch to the tone, the sound of Poetsenvy’s vocals really reflect the thought-provoking pace & substance in the words as he delivers insights, observations and even advice on what’s up with life, what’s good and what’s important. You can here that personal connection between the lyrics, the microphone and the man spittin’ rhymes on “S.W.Y.M.” and that’s what’s making that massive difference here. He’s found a genuinely sincere tone and energy to bring serious meaning to the words…Poetsenvy has made this entire experience real, vivid and completely clear. Ultimately, “S.W.Y.M.” is an uplifting, hopeful and empowering track that serves to inspire…the beat & music are massively inviting and the smooth sound of this cut welcomes you right in to listen to every moment. Smartly placing in samples that sound like the audible-equivalent of highlights from the family photo album – you really get the sense that Poetsenvy opens up to us all on “S.W.Y.M.,” and in my opinion, the results are stunning. It sounds captivating because the story, words and perspective in the lyrics all sounds immaculately REAL – and that’s all thanks to the way that Poetsenvy has found the perfect way to approach the rhythm, flow, cadence and pace of his words. Brilliant performance, brilliant lyrics, brilliant music…a serious highlight in the early stages of the EP.
“Gyou” comes out swinging smoothly with bold synth sounds and a smart percussion rhythm fueling the beat with a wickedly-distant amount of space in the mix. In this particular space, following the highly memorable cut you discover in “S.W.Y.M.” – it’s naturally going to be tougher for any track to stand out. Where Poetsenvy succeeds in busting through that obstacle is right up front in the interesting textures and tones of the opening music & vocals that drift into “Gyou” and how strong the verses in this song are. He does an exceptional job with his descriptions and imagery, taking a moment to dip into the romantic-side of the rap/hip-hop universe…all that stuff is right on the money. His flow and the way he weaves his words through the music and beat are all spot-on from verse to verse, you could pick any one of them throughout “Gyou” and find him right in the grip of the beat, executing perfectly with style, swag and energy in his tone & rhythm. Lyrically, he’ll even drop a reference to the title of the EP subtly as he flows from bar-to-bar and demonstrates that he’s got all the right moves as an emcee that can truly entertain. Where the song needs to beef-up is in the chorus…and there was no doubt about that to me; not every song needs the chorus to outshine the verse, but when you’re on such an incredible roll like Poetsenvy starts out on with “Gyou,” you obviously want that roll to continue when the song slides into its main hooks. Vocally, those last words of each line are coming out with a noticeable dissonance in their tone – which might work for some, might turn off others, that’s gonna be up to each set of individual ears out there. But here’s my thing…a point I’ve made many times throughout these pages to many bands/artists…which is that you gotta make that connection to the words become realer-than-real if you want to take us with you as listeners. In my opinion, the energy noticeably drops in the chorus of “Gyou” during the search for the right tones…and when you’re singing about such an extraordinary subject and the true excitement of love, you want that feeling in the delivery of the words to match so it can translate the emotion, meaning and importance of the lyrics…to make it real. The hooks of the chorus sound like they could work overall with a lot more energy and improved tone, but the writing and ideas could work; it’s a tough call on “Gyou,” but I wouldn’t abandon this idea, just refine it a little. Seems like he’s got the right ideas in place here, but coming after the intense connection you can hear from him on “S.W.Y.M.” makes you instantly want that same magic in his every word after, which puts the low-key, chilled-out vibe of “Gyou” and its chorus at a distinct disadvantage. My advice to Poetsenvy as to how to fix the energy of the chorus on “Gyou” and make it stand out like the idea & flow truly should would be to take his own advice from only moments before on “S.W.Y.M.” when he says “Mean what you saying, say what you mean.” As a wordsmith out there, that’s your ART homie…and you gotta protect it word by word, beat by beat…establishing that connection and making the experience REAL is what always matters most. Listen to that incredible approach to the vocals and words on “S.W.Y.M.” and recognize that energy that sets it apart…harness that brother, and Poetsenvy, you’re on your way to success. When we hear you bring it to the verses with precision, rhythm and skill like you do on “Gyou,” it’s only natural that we want that same level of commitment to the chorus or more when we’re listening…that’s your moment to step-up & make it happen captain, so DO that. Let that beat take you over and get lost in the moment, spit with passion, tone and energy that puts the life into the words…because you’re an emcee that’s capable of making a strong connection at your most focused. Try different approaches, different methods, do whatever it is you want to do…but do justice to the words you’re laying down by finding the perfect way to represent that connection to them on the mic.
“Up Late” finishes The Monstar Machine EP on extremely solid ground. Love the added edge you can hear in Poetsenvy and the dangerous tone in his vocals as he flows through this final cut, the beat is tight and that connection to the words is once again fully on display. He’s played this final track brilliantly and given another dimension to his style with his approach to this last song, hitting the bars of the verses with bold precision and confidence, then letting the samples do the work to add the hooks in the ‘chorus.’ I mean, we’re not talking about the typical kind of chorus you can sing along to – it’s not those kind of hooks…it’s more like a captivating sound added into the mix that pulls you in to listen. I like the way they’re edited in there, like the pace they’re set at, love the extra atmosphere they add into the song when you hear them come in and how they separate the verses of “Up Late.” As Poetsenvy takes you on a journey through his late-night tale, he comes out sounding flawless once again, energized and ready to rumble at any moment. The man’s gonna get his money if he keeps this up. The lyrics are some of the best you’ll find on the EP, complex in his choices, all threaded together perfectly in his flow; you can audibly hear the intensity and focus Poetsenvy has here…”Up Late” is what commitment sounds like.
From what I can find online, it looks like The Monstar Machine EP is either the full-on debut from Poetsenvy or still early-on in his career…and there’s always room to grow and evolve from where we start…so there’s lots of room for this guy to find the path he ultimately wants to be on with his music. Considering all that, I think you gotta hand it to this guy for coming up with four ideas that certainly work on this EP. He’s shown a real depth of talent in key cuts like “S.W.Y.M.” and “Up Late” and the potential to push it all further on songs like “Gyou” and “Head On A Rock.” Early in our careers as artists, we’re all discovering what works best for us along the way and finding our path; Poetsenvy has shown us extreme promise for the future through his ideas on The Monstar Machine EP. When he’s at his most focused, he already sounds like a real veteran and soldier out there in the hip-hop & rap-game…and as time goes on and this guy continues to step to the mic and give it everything he’s got, I believe he’s given us plenty of reason throughout this EP to expect that the best is still yet to come. I think it’s fair to have high-expectations of the future for Poetsenvy based on what you’ll hear on The Monstar Machine EP; he’s a highly capable wordsmith with an authentic perspective, tone and approach that can seriously reach us as listeners…the more he tunes into that superpower, the more Monstar he’ll become. Stack your paper up and place your bets on this guy.
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